By Alexa Tucker
Even though it’s perfectly fine to skip out on pre-workout snack if you’re not feeling it, eating after a sweat session is strongly recommended. Refueling after you exercise helps your body build muscle and replenish the energy you burned through during an intense workout. But if weight loss is one of your goals, eating more calories than you worked off can undo some of that effort.
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“The purpose of a post-workout snack is to replenish glycogen stores (AKA energy stores) used during the workout and to give your body the protein it needs to repair existing muscle as well as build new muscle,” says Nora Minno, R.D., C.P.T., an NYC-based registered dietitian and personal trainer.
Here are fives guidelines for planning your perfect post-workout snack. Remember these are just tips, everyone will have different needs so experiment to see what works best for you.
1. Make sure you’re getting enough protein. “Keeping lean muscle mass high is important not only to maintain strength, but to maintain a healthy metabolism,” says Minno. And protein is what will help build and repair your muscles, she adds. Try to have your snack include 10 to 20 grams.
2. And include some carbohydrates, too. Carbs are important for replenishing your energy, says Minno.
3. Aim for a snack that’s between 150-200 calories. “It will be a bit more than your pre-workout snack, since you’re really focusing on refueling and replenishing,” Minno says.
4. Don’t wait for the sweat to dry. Eat your snack within 30 minutes of your workout, says Minno, so your body has something to rebuild muscle with. Pack your snack in your workout bag so you can refuel ASAP.
5. Rehydrate, rehydrate, rehydrate. Chances are, you’re getting your sweat on during your workout. And while hopefully you hydrated before and during your training session, you’ll want to make sure you stay hydrated post-workout, too, says Minno.
So what does this look like? Try one of these four pre-workout snacks—they’re all around 200 calories, perfectly balanced, and totally delicious, too. Oh, and don’t forget the water!
1. 1 banana + 1.5 tbsp of almond butter
“This snack is about 240 calories,” Minno says. “The banana will provide the body with potassium, an important electrolyte for muscle function, as well as carbohydrates. The almond butter contains leucine, an important amino acid that aids in muscle recovery.” The almond butter provides some protein, too. If you want to cut it back to fewer than 200 calories, lose a half-tablespoon of the almond butter or eat half of the banana.
2. 1 cup of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt + 1 tsp of honey + ½ cup fresh pineapple
This snack is about 170 calories and contains just what you need, protein and carbs!
3. Smoothie with ½ cup of fruit + 4 oz unsweetened soy milk + 1 tsp of honey + 1 scoop of protein powder
“I love smoothies because they’re easy to drink on the go and they allow you to combine a variety of different ingredients to get the nutrition you need.” If you go rogue from this recipe (feel free!), just be mindful of how many high-calorie smoothie ingredients you toss in. This recipe has about 195 calories, Minno says.
4. 1 slice of whole grain bread + 3-4 slices of turkey
This snack clocks in right around 200 to 220 calories, but you can also add a slice of cheese, tomato, and a bit of mustard if you want, says Minno. “The turkey packs in a whopping 18 grams of protein for only 100 calories and the cheese adds in some flavor and extra protein (if you use it). This snack is easy to make ahead of time and take in your gym bag!” So easy andportable.
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